I've been a professional Math Tutor for over 25 years and I'd like to describe what I feel is the best way for a student to learn:
1. Find out what the teacher will be lecturing on, and read about it before you ever set foot into class. Take notes on your reading and mark areas of confusion.
2. Attending class is very important. You will need to be able to see, listen, interpret and take good notes all at the same time. Get a good night's sleep!
3. Pay close attention in class and take good notes. This entails not only copying what the teacher writes on the board, but also making note of what the teacher is saying. Some students find it extremely useful to bring a tape recorder to class, especially if the teacher moves too fast to take good notes. If you find yourself getting confused, make note of the time and it will be easier to find the correct location on your tape recorder later.
4. If the teacher did not clear up any of the confusions you had during your reading, be sure to ask him/her about them. Chances are that the rest of the class is also confused, and will be grateful you are asking questions. This also prevents the teacher from moving on to even more confusing new material.
5. Within 8 hours of attending class, go back over your notes and make sure everything is clear. Re-read the appropriate sections in your textbook, and/or listen to your tape-recorded lecture.
6. Do not be afraid to go to your teacher for extra help. Many students do not take advantage of this opportunity. 20 minutes alone with your instructor is worth many hours of frustration at home, struggling with your books and notes.
7. Form study groups with other students. Everybody learns differently. You may be able to clarify an area of confusion that another student is having, and he/she may be able to help you. Trying to explain something to another learner is the best way to learn it yourself!
8. DO NOT GET BEHIND!! If you feel yourself getting a bit behind, catch up as soon as possible. The further behind you get, the more discouraged you'll feel, and the less motivation you'll have to catch up. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into this downward spiral. Your education is important! It is a juggling act to keep up with everything, but you can do it.
9. Test Taking: Many, (MANY!) students get nervous and don't do well on tests. Don't let nervousness overwhelm you. Be well prepared for your tests so that you are confident on test day. When you begin the test, do the easier problems first, saving the most difficult ones for last. If you have time, go back over the test and check your work. Be as neat and precise as possible. Most of the points lost on tests are due to careless mistakes. If you "blank out" during a test, close your eyes for a minute, take several deep breaths, and try to calm yourself down. Tell yourself that you know the material.
10. Be as neat and organized as you possibly can, in all of the work that you do. Keep a day-timer and write down the dates of all tests and assignments.